Greater Gabbard survey work carried out using cutting edge technology

Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind farm, operated by SSE Renewables, was at the frontline of an industry first this month, as a remote sea vessel undertook survey work for the offshore wind farm.

Greater Gabbard is a joint venture between SSE Renewables and innogy and the XO-450 Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV), owned and operated by XOCEAN, carried out seabed surveys on seven of the turbines at the 140-turbine wind farm, located 23 kilometres off the Suffolk coast.

The craft is around the size of an average car (4.5 metres) and weighs 750kg. And what makes the vessel so unique is it can be monitored and controlled 24/7, via a satellite connection, by a team at an on-shore control centre.

Throughout the survey, real-time data was monitored and collected by experts who are able to validate data collection before the vessel departed the work locations. This demonstrates the highly flexible and collaborative nature of this new technology,  which enables on-shore teams to have direct access to real time data, from any location.

The ultra-low emissions XOCEAN USV offers significant safety, environmental and efficiency benefits.

Jeremy Williamson, SSE Renewables Head of Operations, said: “We are constantly looking for innovative ways in which we can operate our fleet of renewables assets.

“XOCEAN’s vessel will allow us to carry out our work more efficiently, and most importantly for SSE Renewables and our partners innogy, in the safest way possible. We’re really interested to see how this sort of work can help improve our industry and look forward to working with XOCEAN in future.”

Commenting on the project, James Ives, CEO of XOCEAN said: “Our USV platform has demonstrated itself to be a safe, reliable and low carbon solution for the collection of ocean data. We are delighted to be working with SSE and innogy on this ground-breaking project.”

The 500MW, Greater Gabbard Offshore Wind Farm has been in operation since 2012, generating enough low-carbon renewable energy each year to power the equivalent of over 400,000 UK homes.